The Word Guy / Knowledge

Do You Want Capitals with That?

Q. Is it "French fries" or "french fries"? Is it "Swiss cheese" or "swiss cheese"? I have seen them both ways. My wife is Swiss! -- William Nicholson via email

A. Why do I get the feeling that, in your household, there's a lot riding on my ...

Errors Inflict 'Mind Game' Headaches

Mrs. Malaprop, a character in Richard Sheridan's play "The Rivals," replaced familiar terms with similar-sounding words and phrases, often with hilarious results. Can you find 35 malapropisms in this character profile?

My eccentric uncle, Mal A...

Telling Some 'Folk' Tales

Q. During a recent plane trip, the chief flight attendant repeatedly referred to us passengers as "folks." There was not a single "ladies and gentlemen." But how appropriate is "folks" to begin with? I was taught that "folk" is already plural (...

'Who' or 'Whom'? Heed the Verb

Q: This headline appeared over a newspaper story about anonymous kidney donations: "For whomever needs it most." Is "whomever" correct because it is the object of the preposition "for"? Or should it be "whoever," the subject of "whoever needs it...

Shrubbery on Wall Street

Is there a hedge in "hedge fund"?

Judging from the manicured hedges around the secluded estates of hedge-fund managers in North Greenwich, Connecticut, you might think so. In fact, there is a connection between fancy bushes and financial bets. ...

Of 'the' I Sing

Q: Why is Ukraine sometimes called "the Ukraine"? -- Deb Carter, Felton, California

A: This is a timely and relevant question, loaded with geopolitical implications. And it raises a far more serious issue: why we sometimes call Donald Trump "...